1 Corinthians 8:1-13 JUMC “Why UMC Love Covered Dish Dinners” 20120129
Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. NRSV
REASON: One of the central things that I love about the United Methodist Understanding and practice of loving Jesus is that we use our brains.
John Wesley spoke of reason. God has given us wonderful, creative, questioning, exploring minds… they catch is with such a great set of tools, computers and libraries contained in our heads, it could be easy to assume we are creator, master and solely responsible for things God simply opens up to us to discover.
We think there fore we are… vs. We think there God is.
René Descartes Apostle Paul in letter to the Corinthians
He is a question for your brain to chew on today:
Can Food be used to keep people closer to God or keep people separated from God?
On one hand we would say yes, food can keep people together. That is why Wednesday night dinners and Holy Feasts have been at the heart of Christian fellowship through out our church. Looking back to scripture we recall it is through a child’s lunch of five roles and two fish sticks that Jesus works to feed thousands and thousands of hungry followers.
On the other hand it separates people. Recall in the Great Commissioning there are is a time of accountability, “When did you see you hungry and feed you?, When you fed the least important ones, you fed me.” For generations that Hebrews had food laws that helped keep them healthy and helped define them.
The example in this text focuses on FOOD.
In particular is the rule about eating food offered to other Gods.
Its not such an issue in our time, as we eat foods of different cultures and culinary pallets through out our regular diets.
The issue is not so much the food, but RULE part. I’m I being unfaithful to God if I eat something offered to another God)
(Other Religion dinner episode near Emory)
Paul’s answer is: There are no other God’s. Someone else may spoil fool but they can’t make food un-Godly.
How the food we eat define us?
We can look and see that we enjoy sugars, fatty foods, and value convenience over quality.
But this text is about a physical needs limiting a spiritual hunger.
One Thanksgiving season, the church I pastored started gathering food to share with folks who we wanted to help feed at this important family time of the year.
- We learned that most of the people who need the turkey’s we bought didn’t have a pan big enough to cook the bird, if they had a working oven to heat the thing.
- We learned that not everyone who signed up with the Department of Family and Children’s services had an empty refrigerator on Thanksgiving, some knew how to work the system.
- We learned that some parents would let their children be hungry rather than ask for help, admit they had a family problem, or would not share with their children.
We also learned, some folks were content to help with one meal on one day and that absolved their conscience for the year.
We also learned, that because sometimes the church was taken advantage of by a few folks, we didn’t need to waste our resources helping anyone.
We also learned, it might be uncomfortable seeing how some neighbors live so close to our own home, school, parks and shops.
- But through it all, we learned, that our food, filled hungry bodies.
- Through it all, we saw Jesus’ love come into homes that were filled with fear, depression, sadness, and brokenness.
- Through it all, we experienced Jesus alive, through us bringing hope, belonging, and love, using food.
Why worry about food?
Paul writes about food because we deal with it daily.
The REAL question is:
If there are those who are looking and you and me as examples and witness of Jesus in the world..
Does it matter what we eat, drink, wear? We can do as we please, right?
Does it matter how we speak to and treat other people? We have our right to our opinion, right?
Does it matter if we lead with sweetness, forgiveness and grace,
Or do we have to be right, correct, and justified..
Paul’s Point: Don’t fooled for all our knowing.. folks look to each of us to show them Jesus, even as we eat together… WE ARE EXAMPLES.
That’s why United Methodist loved their covered dish dinners, because we can all find a place at the table:
If Jesus sat at your table, would you make sure he had food?
If a stranger was hungry today, who you make sure he/she knew Jesus at your table of food?